by Father Leon Rodrigues
MUMBAI, FEB 25, 2017: The Salesian Province of Bombay (INB) – Local Youth Ministry Delegates had an in depth two-day seminar cum workshop animated by Father Fabio Attard, the General Councillor for Youth Ministry, at Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga from February 22-23. The 'Salesian Youth Ministry: Frame of Reference' was presented not so much as a book to be read academically but as a journey to be lived.
The seminar began on a reflective note with Father Attard inviting each participant to chalk down his three priorities in life. "Our ministry with the young is Divinely inspired, and our Salesian charism is our gift to the Church and world," he affirmed. He further challenged the participants' understanding of Don Bosco when he reminded them that Don Bosco was not a 'mere collection of stories' but rather, a 'paradigm of the experience of faith and life'.
Over the two days, the Councillor for Youth Ministry invited the local youth delegates to a greater understanding of the Preventive System. "The Preventive System in not a mere focus on preventing bad things from happening, but rather, promoting good things to come alive." The Preventive system, he explained was 'a being with', a process of becoming, which transforms both the educator and the student.
He stressed that the Salesian way is the 'way of the Gospel'. It might appear (to others) that we are 'wasting our time' with the young. It is like the Emmaus journey in which our Lord Jesus comes into the midst of his troubled disciples to help them understand and delve into greater meaning.
The entire seminar was a moment for the participating Salesians to revisit the world of the young, their Salesian constitutions and the Gospel of Jesus. Father Attard, with his rich Salesian experience, deep intuition, personal stories and challenging questions led all to redefine their journey towards 'pastoral charity' and 'pedagogical intelligence'. The participants too shared their own stories, concerns and plans for a renewed and relevant youth ministry in the province.
In typical Salesian style, all the prayerful moments, fellowship and playful times on the turf ground were added experiences that enabled the group to refresh and renew their personal lives and ministry with the young. They could easily re-echo the words of the (Emmaus) disciples after Jesus left them: "Were not our hearts burning when he spoke to us" (Luke 24:32).